Breakups are difficult and often we don't learn how to handle them until they've already occurred. What can make them worse is having a breakup with a narcissist. The reason being is because narcissists often leave their victims feeling lost, confused and psychologically gutted. Victims often can’t imagine life without them, because they were brainwashed into believing they can’t do anything on their own, perhaps they were made to feel dependent upon the narc for their own well being, perhaps the narcissists exaggerated their own self worth while degrading and lessening the contributions of the victim.
During this phase of narcissistic courting or narcissistic pursuit, the narcissist is full of vitality, of dreams and hopes and plans and vision. And his energy is not dissipated: he resembles a laser beam. He attempts (and in many cases, succeeds to achieve) the impossible. If he targeted a publishing house, or a magazine, as his future Source of Supply (by publishing his work) – he produces incredible amounts of material in a short period of time.
If it is a potential mate, he floods her with attention, gifts and inventive gestures. If it is a group of people that he wishes to impress, he identifies with their goals and beliefs to the point of ridicule and discomfort. The narcissist has the frightening capacity to turn himself into a weapon: focused, powerful, and lethal.
He lavishes all his energies, capabilities, talents, charms and emotions on the newly selected Source of Supply. This has a great effect on the intended source and on the narcissist. This also serves to maximize the narcissist’s returns in the short run.
Once the Source of Supply is captured, preyed upon and depleted, the reverse process (of devaluation) sets in. The narcissist instantaneously (and startlingly abruptly) loses all interest in his former (and now useless or judged to be so) Source of Narcissistic Supply. He dumps and discards it.
He becomes bored, lazy, slow, devoid of energy, absolutely uninterested. He conserves his energies in preparation for the attack on, and the siege of, the next selected Source of Supply. These tectonic shifts are hard to contemplate, still harder to believe.
The narcissist has no genuine interests, loves, or hobbies. He likes that which yields the most Narcissistic Supply. A narcissist can be a gifted artist for as long as his art rewards him with fame and adulation. Once public interest wanes, or once criticism mounts, the narcissist, in a typical act of cognitive dissonance, immediately ceases to create, loses interest in art, and does not miss his old vocation for a second. He is likely to turn around and criticize his erstwhile career even as he pursues another, totally unrelated one.
The narcissist has no genuine emotions. He can be madly in “love” with a woman (Secondary Narcissistic Supply Source) because she is famous, or wealthy, or a native and can help him obtain legal residence through marriage, or because she comes from the right family, or because she is unique in a manner positively reflecting on the narcissist’s perceived uniqueness, or because she had witnessed past successes of the narcissist, or merely because she admires him.Yet, this “love” dissipates immediately when her usefulness runs its course or when a better “qualified” Source of Supply presents herself.
However, people do recover from the nastiest of breakups and the following strategies will help you on the road to recovery.
1. Don’t Fight Your Feelings
A break-up is often accompanied by a wide variety of powerful and negative feelings including sadness, anger, confusion, resentment, jealousy, fear and regret, to mention a few. If you try to ignore or suppress these feelings, you will likely only prolong the normal grieving process, and sometimes get totally stuck in it. Healthy coping means both identifying these feelings and allowing ourselves to experience these feelings. As hard as it is, you cannot avoid the pain of loss, but realize that by experiencing these feelings, they will decrease over time and you will speed up the grieving process. The stages of grieving frequently include: shock/denial, bargaining, anger, depression and eventually acceptance. Extreme grief feels like it will last forever, but it doesn’t if we cope in some healthy ways.
There are several conditions that will likely intensify your negative feelings, including:
- Not seeing the break-up coming.
- Not being the one who decided to breakup.
- This being your first serious relationship.
- Your ex being your only real close friend.
- Continuing to run into your ex.
- The relationship having made you feel whole or complete.
- Your ex starting to date someone right away.
- Thinking about your ex being sexual with their new partner.
- Believing that your ex is the only one in the world for you.
2. Openly Discuss Your Feelings
Talking about your feelings related to the break-up is an equally powerful tool to manage them. As we talk to supportive friends and family members, we can come to some new understandings and relieve some of our pain. Holding all of these negative feelings in just doesn’t work, although there may be times when this is necessary, such as in public settings, at work, or in class. As we talk to others, we usually discover that our feelings are normal and that others have survived these feelings. Above all else, don’t isolate yourself or withdraw from those people who can give you support. Also, one of the commonalities in people who experience posttraumatic growth, is that they talk about their problems to someone.
3. Write Out Your Thoughts and Feelings
In addition to talking to others, it can be very helpful to journal your thoughts and feelings related to the break-up. People are not always available when you need to get out your feelings and some feelings or thoughts may be too private to feel comfortable sharing with others. The act of writing your feelings out can be very freeing and can often give you a different perspective about them. Also, writing is a formalized way of thinking so when you can see your thoughts coming out of you, it is easier to recognize whatever kind of toxic notions you might still have about the past. Also, a massive amount of work has been done that shows the benefit of writing and how it can help people to disentangle problem memories and help to create a better future and psychological well being.
4. Understand That Break-ups Are Often An Inevitable Part Of Dating
Remember that many of our dating relationships will end up in a break-up. This is the very nature of dating. Until we find our best match, we are going to be moving in and out of relationships, so expect it. This way, we won’t feel so devastated when it does happen. Relationships usually end for some good reasons and they should end if we want to find our most suitable partner. Of course, no match will be perfect and we have to decide how long to keep looking and what we can live with. Finding a complementary partner is more than about love and therefore, it is going to likely take many dating relationships to find.
5. Don’t Personalize The Loss
It is natural after a break-up to blame yourself, but try not to personalize the loss for too long. Much of the pain of a break-up comes from seeing the loss as your fault and regretting the choices you made while in the relationship. This process of self-blame can go on endlessly if you let it.